Sunday, July 27, 2008

Versailles, Impressionists, and The Laundromat

Today was a day full of variety. We took the early morning train to the Palace of Versailles, where we thought we might beat the crowds. Not. I am guessing we were there with a small crowd of, oh, say, 20,000.

How calming, how serene, how pastoral, how like the leisurely life of
Louis XIV. Not. There is nothing like wrestling your way through a crowd of non-air conditioned people from all over the world. These people have a tendency to take photos of everything, including floorboards, doornobs, direction signs, and themselves. Once we got outside though, it was much more pleasant. It helps when there are several thousand acres of gardens.

It was worth the trip and the waiting though, to see the setting for the life of a completely extraordinary man. Louis rained over France for 72 years. I would be happy if I could just eat solid foods for that long.

Later in the day, Nancy and I dropped the girls off at our hotel, and went for our own little trip to the
Musee d"Orsay, the art museum best known for its large collection of Impressionist Painters. Amazing! We were a bit sad to see that one of our (Nancy & I) favorite paintings, one that hangs in our family room, was out on loan, but the rest of the collection was wonderful. Never have I seen so much Impressionist work in one place.

After dinner, I decided it was time to partake in the life of common Parisians, and do some laundry. As I am an accomplished world traveller (note the subtle, yet detectable irony here), I felt a trip to the local laundromat would be simple. Oh naive me.

After reading the wonderful english instructions on the wall, I filled my washer with clothes and added the liquid detergent (shrewdly packed and provided by my brilliant wife) to the special little French soap-holder-thingie, I went to the French electronic electronic command post to start my washer. I punched in the number of the washer I was using and received a message in French, which included the daunting words "impossible" (pronounced with a French accent) on the read-out screen. "This is not good, I thought - I know what THAT word means!" I then decided something must be wrong with the washer I was using, so I deftly changed machines.

But what to do about the now-lost liquid soap!? I know! Grab a sock from the dirty clothes, swab out the the special little soap-holder-thingie, and now take the "super soapy sock" and chuck it into the new washer! Stunning logic! How could I go wrong now? I had overcome the evil gremlins of French laundry. I was even pondering the marketing potential of the Super Soapy Sock, picturing myself retiring early, living on some South Pacific island, all from the proceeds of my sock idea.

I then returned to the command post, punched in the new washer number, and found the same message "im-pos-ee-bley"! After giving in and asking a fellow laudromat patron what was going on, turns out there is some national law here in France that prohibits laundry-doing any later than 9 PM. Well, excuse me, country of France, I have dirty underthings!

I trudged home, defeated by a French laundromat, with a super soapy sock nestled in the middle of my dirty clothes bag. Will Franco - American relations suffer? Will Steve ever have clean shorts?

More tomorrow.
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